'Always on' learning
Mobile devices represent a tangible step-change for learning. They facilitate personalised learning while we are on the move, and enable us to access the Web. Just these two factors alone would be enough to tip the balance and convince most people that some kind of revolution is taking place, but mobile learning goes so much further. Consider the idea of being 'always on'. This is often used as a derogatory description of younger users of mobile devices. From a negative perspective the 'always on' generation is seen as shallow, easily distracted and lacking in any critical reasoning abilities. This may be true for some, but it's a big generalisation. In a recent post entitled A Quiet Invasion, I proposed that users of mobile devices are breaking the mould of traditional learning formats, bypassing and short-cutting conventional modes of learning, and maximising the affordances of their personal devices to support their learning, and they are doing so in impressive ways.
In my own professional experience, younger students are generally thoughtful, critically aware and reasoned in their learning. Sure, there can be frivolous use of mobile devices. But consider the benefits too. Students can use their personal technology to interact with, and gain a purchase on content at a much deeper level than we were able to do in the days before we had such tools. What's more, their learning can be built upon at any time, and in any place, because the student takes all their content with them wherever they go. 'Always on' should therefore also be seen as a positive phenomenon, in which learners can access content, interact with their peers and tutors, and create, organise, repurpose and share content at any time.
Look at this quote, which is taken from 12 Principles of Mobile Learning: "Always-on learning is self-actuated, spontaneous, iterative, and recursive. There is a persistent need for information access, cognitive reflection, and interdependent function through mobile devices. It is also embedded in communities capable of intimate and natural interaction with students."
Any organisation that refuses to support this kind of learning is myopic. They also put themselves in danger of being left behind. All the contrived arguments that are thrown against the integration of personal digital devices in the classroom, the school, the workplace or the training room fall by the wayside when we become committed to promoting self actuated learning. It is difficult to argue against the trend of personalised, mobile devices and their positive impact on learning. The 'always on' trend in particular offers huge potential in the workplace and in traditional education spaces. If mobile devices can be freely harnessed, we can expect to see exciting new developments in education and the emergence of new forms of learning.
Photo by Jiten Vaghela
Always on learning by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.